Investigators are looking into what caused the Sunday morning fire that severely damaged a downtown Long Grove restaurant.
No one was injured in the blaze at Enzo & Lucia Ristorante, 343 Old McHenry Road, but an owner said several post-graduation celebrations planned at the restaurant Sunday had to be canceled.
According to a release from the Long Grove Fire Protection District issued Sunday, firefighters were called to the scene at approximately 10:03 a.m. They arrived about one minute later and found fire escaping from the roof vent of the two-story, wood frame structure, along with a large amount of smoke from the attic.
The alarm was upgraded, bringing in additional fire companies from the Deerfield-Bannockburn, Grayslake, Greater Round Lake, Highwood, Libertyville and Wauconda fire protection districts.
An initial assessment revealed a fire in the kitchen area of the first floor. The fire had spread vertically up and out of the metal vent system for the stove and into the second floor and attic space.
The news release said firefighters attacked the fire using multiple hoselines, as well as cutting a hole in the roof.
The main body of the fire was extinguished in about 10 minutes, with about 1,500 gallons of water used in the process.
The only occupant of the building at the time of the fire -- an employee of the business -- had left the building before the arrival of firefighters. He was evaluated by paramedics and signed a medical release. One firefighter was evaluated for high blood pressure and also signed a medical release.
Damage to the building and its contents has yet to be determined.
A preliminary investigation revealed the occupant had entered the building and discovered the fire. He then unsuccessfully tried to put out a fire in a pot on top of the stove using a fire extinguisher. A wet chemical hood suppression system was activated, but it could not keep the fire from traveling up the vent system, which had its exhaust fan operating at the time, and out into the second floor and attic.
After the fire was extinguished, one of the owners, Lucia Cavallino, could be seen standing in the chilly air outside and speaking with longtime customers as they watched firefighters walk in and out of the two-story wooden house where she's had her restaurant since 2001.
Cavallino said she feels awful about the three graduation parties planned at the restaurant Sunday.
"I was here at 8:30 this morning because I make tiramisu every day," she said Sunday. "I left at 9:15. There was no smell in the kitchen. And I don't use anything except ... the blender. And then my husband calls me, because he gets here at 10, and he goes ... 'The restaurant is on fire.'
One longtime customer, Long Grove resident Barbara Manglardi, was also outside the scene of the fire Sunday.
"Good friends. Good food. We're really going to miss this place. Hopefully it will be back soon for us in Long Grove," Manglardi said.
Sharon Fine, director of community development for the Long Grove Business and Community Partners, lamented the loss to the community.
"(It's) so sad because it has such a long family history and they pour their hearts into this restaurant," Fine said. "(Lucia's) big concern right now is the people that are having parties here today."
Fine was confident the restaurant would open its doors again.
"It's a stalwart of the town. It's an institution here. Until they're back up and running it's going to be very much missed. Knowing this family and how strong they are, they'll make it through, and they'll start over. And they'll have the support of the community. That's for sure."